Pillsbury Doesn't Do it Best

Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro

Santa Barbara is our second home and we get there at least once or twice a month. Time after time we have bought baked goods at Renaud's but have only dined here a handful of times. It's a good thing that there is a lot of walking to be done near the Downtown location because we want to order the whole menu. Be prepared, be very prepared to buy everything in sight. French pasteries are absolutely works of art. Chef Renaud Gonthier, executive pastry chef at Renaud's, has over 20 years of experience creating magic in the kitchen. Almond Croissants ($3.30) are sweet, crunchy, flaky, and buttery, all at the same time. I am more of a butter ($2.25) or chocolate ($2.80) croissant lover. These are equally devine. Macaroons ($1.75) look like jewels in the glass case. It's hard to make a decision about which of the eleven choices to try. I try to take home a few each time. Favorites include vanilla, caramel sea salt, raspberry, coffee, chocolate, and passion fruit. Bring some to your next dinner party and you'll definitely be the hit of the evening. ($17.50 for 10 beautifully wrapped gems). For breakfast try Renaud's 100% organic coffee. Have a Cafe au Lait, Latte, or Macchiato for a special treat. The European Breakfast ($8) is a light way to start your day. A toasted baguette, croissant and fresh homemade jam and butter are served with a choice of coffee or tea. French Toast ($8.75) is made with fresh homemade brioche bread served with maple syrup, homemade jam and butter. Eggs are tasty too. All eggs are cage-free and grain fed. Egg dishes are served with a side of organic greens, fruit salad, or potatoes. The Fried Egg Sandwich ($10) is outstanding with sauteed mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, and swiss, on homemade pain de mie (loaf bread). The Three Egg Omelet ($11.50) comes with a choice of four fillings. Aged Gruyere, fresh spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes is our top choice. Served with a choice of toast, this dish is filling and delicious. Lunch is my favorite time at Renaud's. The Beef Sandwich ($11.50) is so mouth-watering that you might go back for another one. Tri-tip is seared with garlic, parsley, and shallots then topped with melted aged Gruyere and served on a homemade soft roll. I don't think  this sandwich could ever be duplicated. Quiche Lorraine ($9) is filled with ham and swiss and is another show-stopper. On my list for my next visit: Raclette Cheese Tartine. ($11) If you've never had a Raclette sandwich before, you have really missed out. Melted Raclette cheese is served over buttery Yukon potatoes, caramelized onions, and bacon. Enjoy it all on some fresh multi-grain toast. All sandwiches are served with a side of organic mixed greens with Dijon mustard dressing. Wow...that's all I have to say, Wow! Renaud's Patisserie & Bakery Downtown 1324 State Street Suite N (Arlington Plaza) Santa Barbara. (805) 892-2800 and Uptown at 3315 State Street (Loreno Plaza), (805) 569-2400 Breakfast 7 a.m.-11 a.m, Lunch 11 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.

Recommended Dishes: Macaroons, croissants, French Toast, Beef Sandwich.

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